From the messy desk of a procrastinating med student

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The things that happen when you are home alone and supposed to be studying

My neighbour just walked in on me.

Which isn't usually a problem, except for the fact that I was dressed in a singlet and knickers, waltzing around the living room and belting out a few notes while Nina Simone's My Baby Just Cares For Me cranked on my crappy CashConverters stereo. I was clutching a huge glass of port. At half past three in the afternoon.

The neighbour turned an impossible shade of beetroot and said he'd come back later.

Yeah, yeah, OK. I know I am a seventy-five year old man in a twenty-seven year old med student body (and I don't care).

Just in case you wanted to sing along at home:

My baby don’t care for shows
My baby don’t care for clothes
My baby just cares for me
My baby don’t care for cars and races
My baby don’t care for high-tone places

Liz Taylor is not his style
And even Lana Turner’s smile
Is somethin’ he can’t see
My baby don’t care who knows
My baby just cares for me

Baby, my baby don’t care for shows
And he don’t even care for clothes
He cares for me
My baby don’t care
For cars and races
My baby don’t care for
He don’t care for high-tone places

Liz Taylor is not his style
And even Liberace’s smile
Is something he can’t see
Is something he can’t see
I wonder what’s wrong with baby
My baby just cares for
My baby just cares for
My baby just cares for me

Dancing in your underwear while knocking back fortified wine has just joined a very long list of things that are More Fun Than Studying (MFTS).

If you have any other unusual activities that I can add to my MFTS list, do leave a comment!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Measles, mumps and rubella

Friday, April 21, 2006

Neurology: Prepared to put out

Even though I'm probably a third of the way through my medical course, part of me is still waiting for a letter on official university letterhead saying,

Dear Ms Lish

I write to inform you that you were given a place in medicine by mistake.

You see, we were sorting applicants into a series of piles, and the 'Yes' pile was right next to the "You have got to be kidding - this person is a dingbat" pile.

You can see where we made our error. Ooops, naughty us. Your enrolment has been cancelled.

Yours sincerely

University Beaurocrat

The first week of the neurology block has just drawn to a close, and I am terrified! I'm just not sure I'm smart enough for this stuff.

I'm off to sound out if there is any of the professors I can sleep with in lieu of taking the exam.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

This won't hurt a bit*


After finishing my exams about a week ago in an over-caffeinated buzz, I was rostered straight on to a stint in a hospital ward to complete what the university calls a 'Nursing Attachment'.

The nurses in the teaching hospital must have some great advocates or negotiators, as they have managed to insist that all medical students complete a full week assigned to a registered nurse. The idea is that future doctors graduate with a good understanding and respect for the important work nurses do. After all, nurses really perform much of the work that makes the wheels of the hospital keep turning. They interpret, implement and improve the plans formulated by doctors. Provide meds. Provide comfort. Hand holding. Clean up poo. Wee. Blood. Tears.

The nurses enabled me to get involved in a lot of procedures I had never done before. I took blood, did ECGs, sorted out drips, administered antibiotics intravenously and even (I'm really excited about this, but you probably won't be unless you're a med student..) took an arterial blood gas.

You see, usually blood is taken out of a vein, which is a low pressure system. But to get a picture of the gases in the blood (eg oxygen, co2) you need to take blood from an artery, which is of the high pressure, spurty variety. The intern caught my attention and asked if I had ever seen one done before. I said 'no', so I watched and he talked me through it. Two minutes later he pulled me aside.

"Your turn."

(I gulp, and weirdly, my feet start sweating)

So the intern walks up to the next patient and says, here's Lish, she's a student doctor. She's going to take your arterial blood gas. Patient turns grey and looks worried (potentially looking at my ashen face).

"Don't worry," says the intern. "She's a good student, she won't hurt you."

Well, glad the intern was sounding confident. I opened my mouth to say something reassuring but only managed a feeble wincy smile. If I was the patient I would have grabbed my drip and run full pace and bare bummed down the corridor, the open blue stripy hospital gown flapping behind me.

Lucky for me, not him, he had a dreadful lung condition that prevented a speedy exit.

So, just as I had seen minutes earlier, after a needle of local anaesthetic, I gently felt the bounding (terrified) pulse in the poor man's wrist. And, with all the courage I could find, shoved the needle where I guessed the artery was, and there it came, first time. A vial full of bright red arterial blood.

I don't know who looked most surprised: the patient, me, or the intern!

I gave a little involuntary skip for joy as I left the patient's bedside. And my feet continued to sweat for an hour afterwards.

The problem with the profession of medicine is that, no matter what lecture theatre-type training you receive, there is nothing that can prepare you for the first time you do a new procedure on a real patient.

The 'nursing attachment' was worthwhile. Apart from all the hands-on skills I learnt, I did gain an appreciation for the hard work of nurses, their skill and dedication, their completion of nasty, dirty tasks, and the warmth and comfort they give patients at a time in their lives that they most need it.

The only thing I would change would be to enforce a 'Doctor's Attachment' for nurses. I could have smacked the nurses for their constant doctor bagging.

Because of the hierarchical system of health care, nurses are not privy to a lot of the deliberating and difficult decisions doctors make. They are often not told reasons for decisions. So nurses assume that the decisions that are made by doctors are not carefully thought out. Then they bitch. Endlessly.

Medics are making an effort to understand nurses. Why can't the courtesy apply the other way?

*No, that is not me in the picture. My legs are nicer. And I wouldn't be waving the thermometer around aimlessly like that. I'm am a med student after all: I understand that thermometers belong in orifices.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Of course it rained all day

Here it is.. the seat is going to double as a day bed (once we get organised with some bright cushions) and is also hinged to provide us with storage (desperately needed).

How awesome are we? Or, at least, the man-thing. He designed, built, and took the photos. I am actually hopeless at all of the above. Geez? What am I good at?

I made the tea.



There's still tons of work to do (including putting a roof on the pergola, which, er may have come in handy today as the man-thing worked in the pouring rain, and paving, and landscaping). But it's so exciting to see things transform.

Thanks, super man-thing. You are a hero!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The journey begins..

The talented man-thing has already been hard at work transforming my hideous, depressing, tiny courtyard into what will be a gorgeous, magazine quality haven for endless coffee drinking, shiraz swilling and outdoor dinner parties.

He's already replaced the crumbling fence and built a deck and the beginnings of a pergola. It's very exciting! Sort of like Backyard Blitz (except in extreme slow motion, the absence of twelve sexy sunkissed tradies sauntering around and, er, the fact that we actually have to pay for it!)

Here's the before pic:

So this weekend, the project is to build in a bench seat (that doubles as storage) so we can entertain more than one and a half people at a time. I earlier had the important job of holding things still. Then the man-thing bought a pair of clamps. Now I am redundant. (And to be honest, not shedding too many tears about it.)

Here is the 'before the seat' pic:

Will update progress!

Happy Easter from Medphiles

Saturday, April 15, 2006

They should pay me to consult on these things

If there are 'boy seats' installed in dress shops for bored husbands and boyfriends, why can't the courtesy be extended to 'girl seats' in car yards, warehouses and other retail outlets currently perpetrating widespread female torture?

Haven't we, as the female race, been through enough without having to be dragged through these places and consulted on the most appropriate choice of screw, hinge or drill bit? Surely the torture should stop at childbirth, Oprah shows, XX waxing and being the only one who ever cleans the bathroom? (The XX waxing is a post in itself!)

I can barely walk in hardware shops. It's my warehouse legs. It's like I'm pulled aside in the carpark and forced to accept intravenous jelly infusions into the backs of both legs, while having each shoe surreptitiously filled with 35kg of wet concrete.

I think the warehouse legs come about just because I hate those places so much. They are so dusty, so huge, boiling hot (or freezing cold) and full of wide-bottomed people walking too slowly. And I'm always either thirsty or hungover (or both!).

The 'girl seat' idea occurred to me this morning as I was being dragged around Aussie hardware shop Bunning's Warehouse, to buy, er, important provisions. What could possibly be the problem with having the odd strategically positioned seat, in a non-dusty area, with hunky topless (potentially overall clad) men serving martinis to anyone that doesn't really want to be there?

I know, I know, it is 2006 and we girls are supposed to be doing it for ourselves: drill weilding, welding, boot wearing etc. I'm all for that. But if it's not my project, and I'm not going to be the one hammering in the nails, then the bf is going to be forced to drag me around like a six year old kid in a mattress shop.

(Warehouse legs aside tho, the suffering bf is spending his weekend building me my very own built-in bench seat in the back courtyard. It's a bit exciting: I'll post photos of progress.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

The old, the older, and the persistent vegetative ridiculous

One of the members of my family died today: my grandmother's cousin. She was 91.

Now, one of the things that you will find out about me is that I love old people. I love my Nan. I work on weekends as a carer looking after a number of old biddies. AND, I spend a lot of time campaigning for the improvement of their lot.

Anyway, this 91 year old, Dee, lived the middle sixty years of her life as a veritable giant of my family. An old fashioned matriarch. She brimmed, rosy-cheeked, with gossip, advice, cackly laughter and recipes for Hungarian Goulash.

I remember vividly as a kid walking into my Nan's house and seeing her on the phone. Nan would be rolling her eyes. "Dee's on the phone." Nan would be stuck there chatting for hours.

But in her eighties, Dee suffered increasingly with Dementia. By 85 she was just a shell: bed ridden, non-responsive, non-communicative, conscious but not functioning.

The tragedy here of course is not that she died, but that she was allowed to live for six or seven years, in a nursing home, as a vegetable. White skin, no teeth. Dribble. She would regularly get chest infections, pneumonia, viruses. She had dreadful bedsores.

So why did they continue to treat her with antibiotics? Hypertension tablets? Cholesterol meds? Flu shots? And the rest? Dee, this vicacious, loud, goulash-yeilding woman would have been horrified to see her dignity lost for so many years, a living dead woman in a nursing home.

Sometimes families, and their doctors, have much to answer for.

Speedo launches new direction in swimwear

Caption that!

Photo courtesy of a very funny Larry the Cheeto.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Zat where they go on a cold night?

Been learning a bit about embryology lately, the study of how bodies develop from the point of conception to birth. Amazing subject.

Did you know that boys' testicles actually develop in conjunction with the kidneys, half way up their backs? It's not until about the sixth or seventh month of gestation that the testes get dragged by a little cord all the way from under their armpits (well, nearly) and into their final resting place. Here's a groovy animation of the descent.

My bf says that's where they must go back to when he goes swimming in Tasmania ;)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Important scientific research

Women as explained by engineers:

Chop up that ovary and stick it on the wall

Histology is a discipline where you take a piece of human tissue, slice into really thin pieces, stain it and then look at it under the microscope.

It can be a bit of a dry subject, but there are times when I am rendered speechless by just how perfect and beautiful the body can be (inside and out).

Have a look at this slide of the outside part of the ovary, where the eggs develop (out of Wheater's Functional Histology, Elsevier, pg 344). The white circles at the bottom are a couple of immature eggs that have been chosen to develop. Usually only one of six or seven 'chosen ones' will eventually burst out of the ovary and make its journey down it's owner's fallopian tubes. The rest of the 'chosen ones'each month just die off.

Anyway, I think there is a distinctly Van Gough-y appearance to this slide. Very 'Starry Night' - looks like it belongs more on the wall of an art gallery than hidden in a medical text. If I could work out how I could buy one of these stunning images, I would frame it and hang it on my study wall, and call it 'Eggy Ovary'.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Wading through the disaster zone

Exam this morning: Survived.

Endocrine and Reproductive Systems. I've thought about nothing else but vaginas, thyroid hormones, uteruses, cervixes (or is that cervices?), sperm sample pH and freaky weird hormonal diseases for the past month. And that's just my private life.


A ninety minute exam, covering almost none of the material I've studied, and it's all over.

Now I've got to deal with all the crap in my study. I'm just about up to my armpits in notes, overdue library books, cram cards and my own anatomy diagrams of badly drawn bums, balls and boobs. The sooner I clear all this stuff off my desk and out of my mind the sooner I can start mentally dealing with doing a u-turn and starting the final revision for the Gastro-Intestinal exam on Wednesday.

Which means that my Medical Student syndrome will probably take on a new focus too. I've been worried about endometriosis, breast cancer and spontaneous pituitary gland implosions for a few weeks. Now I'm going to get all ulcerative colitis-y and come down with a bit of an irritable bowel.

Well, that really gives me the shits.